Saturday, November 17, 2012

Social Media Safety?

So my eldest kiddo just turned 13 last week and I finally caved and let her have a Facebook account because she was old enough.  Strangely enough, FB has an age requirement of 13 but there are sooo many kids that have accounts that are not 13.  Much to my daughter's annoyance.  Mostly because she couldn't have one.  But I am pretty much a rule follower so no FB until 13.

So anyway, she has a FB account now and that certainly brings up some issues that we haven't really had to worry about before.  No friending (friending--like that's even a word) anyone you don't know.  Make your account private so no one who isn't your friend can look at it.  Don't write anything that you wouldn't want the whole school to see.  Don't post any pictures of yourself that you don't want your whole school to see.  Friend your mom so I can keep track of what you are saying.  Give me your password so I have access to your account.  Don't ever plan to meet anyone in real life that you 'met' on the computer.

Did I forget anything?  Kinda scary how almost anyone has access to your child via FB or the computer in general.

Then I kinda thought about the example I set for her regarding MY Facebook/internet use.  Do I practice what I preach?  Ummm... not so much.

I have plenty of 'friends' on FB that I've never met in real life.  Through my blog, running, reading other blogs and Team Tough Chik, I have probably around 20 friends that I've never even met.

My account is certainly not private.

I do follow the advice of not posting pics or status updates that I wouldn't want everyone to see.  Yay for me! +1

I have actually planned to meet and have met in real life some folks that I 'know' only via the internet.  I've had the pleasure of meeting Jen of milesmusclesmommyhood, Jen of runningwiththegirls and Carrie of mainemomontherun.  I thought nothing of it.  And they are really awesome people!  I'm so glad that I did meet them.  And there are plenty others I would love to meet.

How safe is that exactly?  Do you ever think about how someone may possibly be misrepresenting themselves online in order to take advantage of you?  I don't.  I never think like that.  I almost always assume that everyone is being as honest and real as I am.  And living in Maine, the crime rate is pretty dang low so I really never think about my safety.  Kinda scary, if you think about it.  Not exactly the message I want to convey to my daughter.

But on the other hand, if I were paranoid and worried that everyone was out to get me, then I would miss out on meeting some really cool people.

Where do you draw the line?  I guess for kids, the caution line is set really high.  Children are so easily taken advantage of and/or manipulated.  The line for my teen is me being a social media nazi.  Until she's old enough to make mature decisions regarding that, there is zero tolerance for any variations of the above rules.

This is really a new problem for parents.  like me!  Internet, like we know it, has not been around that long and FB is relatively new.  I would be really interested to hear how other parents are protecting the privacy of their children (or not) and how to go about keeping them safe online but also not creating a paranoid kid.

How do you keep your kid safe while online?

Are you paranoid about internet predators?


Carrie said...

There are certainly some crazies out there and I think your rules are perfectly legit. Once she's an adult is a different story, but for now only friends she knows seems fair and what is safe. I'm glad you thought I was normal enough to meet me...on three occasions now! If you only knew.... LOL!

Hshawjr207 said...

As a former teacher who tried to teach Facebook safety to 7th & 8th Graders, I really look at the Facebook privacy settings and taught them how to adjust them from Facebook's default settings, then we went through Common Sense Media's canned curriculum. We felt it was important enough to do for several weeks and I was a Special Education English teacher - but hey isn't Facebook how many kids and adults communicate with others? Isn't that what teaching English is really about teaching students how to communicate with others properly :-).

As far as how I feel about putting things out there, I just go with the idea that what I say or put up online will be seen by both my wife and my boss, along with anyone in the workplace lunch room. Which really doesn't matter too much because I am old and boring ;-).

It is tough raising kids in this digital age, especially with the "rules" changing so rapidly and you are raising the first generation of Social Media kids.

..:danielle:.. said...

this is a great post... and made me laugh and cringe at the same time!
now that i have to start thinking about whats right for my children (weird!) it seems so crazy to think about social media and how far its come in such a short time. i certainly have met some really awesome people via blogging and twitter that i am so happy to have in my life now... (and still hoping to meet you soooooooon!!!)
but youre right, how do you really know? my husband thinks its weird and calls people my 'real friends' and 'internet friends'... but so many of my 'interent friends' have become real friends and i wouldnt want it any other way! i think its different due to the fact that almost all of the people i have met (like 99.99%) have been through running, meeting at races and whatnot, so i feel safer that way. but im sure its tough when you start to think about your children though, and i think you are making the right decisions in teaching her what you did regardless of what we do.
ive also certainly met people who have not continued to be in my life, but we can always make those decisions.

Terzah said...

I'm FB friends with a lot of people I know through running blogs only (some of whom I have gone on to meet in person). I figure that's no less safe than being friends with high school people I haven't seen in 26 years, right? My own privacy settings are as high as they go--my FB page doesn't exist to Google.

I'm going to be just like you about social media rules with my kids. Hopefully Facebook won't drop that 13 requirement. I feel this way about cell phones, too.

Stasha said...

Oh my, I honestly don't know. Follow your gut I guess. World has changed so much since this whole social media started.